PLANT PATHOLOGIST: a scientist who deals with the symptoms, causes, spread, and control of plant diseases



When Chelston Brathwaite decided to study agricultural science, there were those who said,”You are a bright boy. Why don’t you study medicine or law?” But he studied agricultural science because he wanted to use his scientific knowledge and skills to feed the world.

Chelston Brathwaite (Date of Birth: 8th Mar 1943)

Caribbean Icons in STI Vol 2

Dr Chelston Brathwaite is the current Director General of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA). His work as an administrator, researcher, lecturer and technical advisor on plant diseases and crop protection has benefited agriculture throughout the Caribbean.

Chelston Whitley Da Costa Brathwaite was born on 8th March, 1943, in St. Michael, Barbados. He attended the St. Matthew’s Boys School and the Modern High School. He furthered his studies in agriculture at The University of the West Indies (UWI) St. Augustine, Trinidad, where he aided the development of the Harland Society, which engaged students in agricultural development in the region. After obtaining his first degree in 1966, he headed to Cornell University in the United States, where he completed his Master of Science (MSc) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Plant Pathology.

Dr Brathwaite worked at UWI for 10 years. He also served as an external examiner for universities in Nigeria and Kenya, and worked with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. He supervised a number of research projects on plant diseases and crop protection and provided technical advice to plant protection directors in the Caribbean. He contributed to pest control efforts in the region and to the development of plant protection measures for important crops such as sugar cane in St. Kitts and Barbados, and sweet potatoes in Trinidad and Tobago, which resulted in improved crop yields.

In 1981, he joined IICA as Regional Plant Protection Specialist for the Caribbean. Dr Brathwaite was made the ninth Director General in January 2002. He promoted sustainable agricultural development within member states of IICA and his institutional reforms have made the institute a global centre of excellence.

Dr Chelston Brathwaite advises young students to “arrive at your goals in life by having a plan and a strategy for implementing your plan”.